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Jon Stewart on Trump Presidency: ‘Purposeful, Vindictive Chaos’

Variety logo Variety 2/1/2017 Variety Staff

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Jon Stewart returned to late-night on Tuesday to offer a blistering assessment of the first 10 days of the Trump presidency during an appearance on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

“We have never faced this before: Purposeful, vindictive chaos,” Stewart said.

Stewart and Colbert giggled through a segment that featured Stewart channeling Trump reading new executive orders to come. The longtime friendship and comedic collaboration between Stewart and Colbert was evident as the bit veered from skewering Trump to a quick homage to Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon (via Carnac the Magnificent) and a quick nod to Jerry Lewis.

The first of Stewart’s three executive orders declared the official language of the United States to be “bull—-” — perhaps a call out to Stewart’s warning in his August 2015 sign-off from “The Daily Show.”

Another was to demand that China send America its Great Wall “COD, so Mexico has to sign for it,” Stewart said. © Provided by Variety

The final order affirmed “that I, Donald J. Trump, am exhausting,” Stewart said. “The presidency is supposed to age the president, not the public.”

With his presence and his incisive observations, Stewart seemed to try to reassure the audience that the country is strong enough to survive the upheaval already evident during Donald Trump’s 10-day tenure in the White House. He called for “relentless stamina and vigilance and every institutional check and balance this country can muster” to contain the President, given the policy agenda and behavior demonstrated since his Jan. 20 inauguration.

If the nation survives Trump’s reign without a major calamity, it will have “demonstrated the greatness of America, just not in the way I thought it would,” Stewart said, speaking as Trump.

Stewart has popped up a few times on “The Late Show” since Colbert took the reins in September 2015. Stewart is an executive producer of “Late Show” but is not a hands-on presence.

Stewart’s visit to “Late Show” raises the question about the status of his deal to deliver topical short-form content for HBO’s various platforms. He signed a wide-ranging production pact with HBO in 2015 after ending his nearly 17-year run on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.”

Sources close to the situation said Stewart continues to work on a venture to produce timely animated programming using cutting-edge technology. Fans had expected that Stewart would use the HBO platform to comment on the raucous 2016 presidential election, but no material to date has surfaced. Sources emphasized that the technology is new and the production infrastructure is still being assembled. But Stewart remains committed to the HBO deal.

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